Charlie Morgan is a national grassland specialist who worked for IGER/IBERS for 22 years where he helped develop new grass varieties and grazing methods to benefit UK agriculture. He is recognised as a leading expert in grassland management and will be available to offer specialist advice to farmers in the catchment groups facilitated by Chris Seabridge. Mr Morgans will be in the Blithfield catchment on Thursday 7th September 2017 from 12.00 to 3.00pm, at The Blythe Inn, Booth Lane, Nr Kingstone, ST18 0LT, and in the Lonco Brook catchment that evening from 7.00 to 9.30 pm at Offley Grove Farm, Adbaston, ST20 0QB.

Both events will include advice on soil and grassland management including re-seeding, effective weed control and improving soil condition as well as ways to rejuvenate swards in pastures and meadows with discussion of the different types of machinery to tackle the various grassland management issues and advice on selecting and using machinery for the best results.

The Blythe Inn event will include a working demonstration of a flat lifter (by kind permission of Tim Pratt) whilst the event at Offley Grove farm will offer the chance for farmers to bring along an intact spade full of soil for assessment of the condition of soil under their grassland.

The events are for members of the farmer groups in the Blithfield Reservoir and Lonco Brook catchments, but non-members who farm land in the relevant catchment are very welcome.

If you would like to attend one of the events please book your place(s) by telephone 01785 710564 or email nigel@chrisseabridge.co.uk by Monday 4th September 2017

Chris is the facilitator for the Blithfield Reservoir farmers catchment group: he is working with Nina Yiannoukos of South Staffordshire Water (SSW) to set up training for group members who need certificates on field and knapsack sprayers. Farmers can no longer use ‘grandfather rights’ to use sprayers but must have proper training to use modern sprays safely, protecting people and water. SSW has contributed to the cost so that up to ten members of the Group can take the course this October. Nina said that research shows the water company can save money by working with farmers to reduce pollution in drinking water catchments. This positive initiative benefits farmers, the environment and customers of South Staffs Water.


Enthusiastic members of Lonco Brook farmer’s catchment group spent a pleasant evening on the farm of group Chair Nick Galbraith on 3rd July. They came to view his Countryside Stewardship scheme options and discuss the ins and outs of the scheme with Nick and with Chris Seabridge. Nick has established a practical scheme that contributes to business income, makes the farm look attractive and helps support wildlife and game birds on the land, including English partridge. He explained how the scheme helps his farming business, whilst Chris summarised the do’s and don’ts for successful management of the various options. Members found the evening very useful and will be looking seriously at using the scheme themselves.

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Farmers from the Lonco Brook catchment met up to launch a new group that will work to improve the environment around them. Fifteen farmers attended the initial meeting of the group on 12 December 2016 and heard Chris Seabridge outline the challenges he sees facing farmers in managing land to meet consumer and social demands whilst maintaining viable businesses. He explained his belief that farmers need to organise themselves to meet these challenges and that this group, with support from Natural England, offers them an opportunity to get started.

Natural England has provided funding support to farmer groups, also known as farmer clusters, who will work together to achieve aims wider than the boundaries of their farms. Severn Trent Water are also strongly supportive of groups based in their drinking water safeguard zones. Both bodies provide grants to farmers and both came along to support the meeting and tell group members about the grants available. Farmers heard presentations from Severn Trent Water explaining the importance of the catchment for drinking water supply and the grant schemes they have available to help reduce diffuse pollution from agricultural land whilst Ken Downward explained the Catchment Sensitive Farming grants available from Natural England.

Nick Galbraith volunteered to become Chair of the group and will work with his steering group, Tim Belcher and Piers Bratton, together with Chris to develop a programme of events that will help farmers acheive the group’s aims.

The Lonco Brook catchment group has 16 members farming 2352 hectares, who aim to reduce the losses of nutrients and pesticides from their land as well as to enhance habitats and wildlife. They hope to expand by signing up other farmers in the catchment.

 

Farmers around Blithfield Reservoir are demonstrating their commitment to a clean and thriving environment by joining a group set up to promote environmental improvement and cleaner water in the catchment. Over 30 farmers attended the initial meeting of the group on 28 November 2016 and heard Chris Seabridge outline the challenges facing the catchment. He was supported by speakers Nina Yiannoukos from South Staffordshire Water and the Voluntary Initiative’s Patrick Goldsworthy. Local farmer Tim Pratt volunteered to Chair the group and will work with Chris to set up a steering group and develop a programme of events that will help farmers to deliver real improvements, supported by the SPRING grant scheme run by South Staffordshire Water.

The Blithfield group has members farming over 2300 hectares of land in the catchment who aim to reduce the losses of nutrients and pesticides from their land as well as to enhance habitats and wildlife. They hope to expand by signing up farmers who manage land downstream, but who’s land drainage is pumped back up into Blithfield reservoir through South Staffordshire Water’s pump back scheme.

Members listening to presentations at the event